CRASH - No Barriers

Joanne Artman Gallery
Sep 7, 2016 9:44PM

Known for his bold, iconic graffiti, John “Crash” Matos’s spray paintings on canvas and watercolors feature his classic imagery and symbols. The group of work presented in Breaking Ground: Redefining the Urban Experience at JoAnne Artman Gallery presents the current stage in Crash’s artistic practice: bold color, crisp lines, and cropped visual elements that are tightly collaged and bridge the gap between instant recognition and abstraction.

Blackbook Jungle
Joanne Artman Gallery

Comic-strips, comic book action sequences, along with a unique visual language which the artist has developed over the past 40+ years, form the basic foundation for Crash's work. The artist is known for his explosive, dynamic compositions that feature collaged, comic-book-style action sequences interlaced with different iterations of the word “crash.” This visual plane is frequently abstracted, yet populated with numerous points of reference of familiar visual symbols.

Some of Crash's favorite imagery includes the cheeky use of lens-flare: the event in which a bright light source creates a distortion in a photographic image in the shape of the lens iris. Crash also frequently depicts bubbles, action streaks, singular, emphasized eyes and large, blocky arrows, to name a few. Recurring characters include Popeye, whose arm is featured in Off the Hook, and Ignatz the mouse, a well-known character from the Krazy Kat comic strip which ran from 1910s-1940s, which can be seen in the painting In the Nick of Time.

In the Nick of Time
Joanne Artman Gallery

The fine details of Crash's images also stand out. Most noticeably in his depictions of eyes, Crash utilizes small black, white, and gray dots to create the illusion of the reflective surface of the pupil—reminiscent of the shading effect used by the early comic book illustrators. A clear influence in these works is Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein who similarly borrowed from comic book strips and famously used the Ben-day dot printing process. Lichtenstein hand painted the dots to create an illusionistic effect where two differently colored, overlapping dots would create a third color when seen from a distance.

Crash's watercolors achieve a similar stunning visual response. In the works, Crash uses the drawing medium to explore his palette, achieving brighter, translucent, gem-like colors, which deviate from the solidity of his spray paints. He uses solid black outlines rather than crisp edges between color fields to define the forms, altering his approach to fit the fluidity of watercolor. Crash manages to deftly explore the line between graffiti, painting, and visual representation through a nuanced approach by utilizing both his own visual aesthetic as well as expanding and redefining the possibilities of his chosen mediums.

"Breaking Ground: Redefining the Urban Experience" featuring John “CRASH” Matos is on view at JoAnne Artman Gallery, 511A West 22nd St. New York, NY 10011, Sept. 8, 2016-Oct 31, 2016.

John “CRASH” Matos is represented by JoAnne Artman Gallery.

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Joanne Artman Gallery